Military veterans provide a large and diverse population to examine the extent to which compulsory physical activity (PA) in early adulthood is associated with PA later in life.
We assessed self-reported and objectively measured PA and sedentary time in the 900 veterans and 2036 nonveterans with valid data from the 2003–2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. Analyses were adjusted for the complex survey design and age, race/ethnicity, education, marital status, and poverty.
Based on self-report, the proportion of veterans and nonveterans meeting PA Guidelines did not differ significantly (51.1% vs. 43.9%, P = .26). However, a greater proportion of veterans reported regular vigorous leisure-time activity (30.4% vs. 19.6%, P = .04) and muscle-strengthening activities (24.4 vs. 16.7, P = .051). Based on objective PA monitoring, activity levels between veterans and nonveterans also did not differ significantly, although mean counts and minutes per day were numerically greater in nonveterans. By self-report (P = .02) and PA monitors (P = .065), estimated sedentary time was greater in veterans than in demographically similar nonveterans.
Veterans were no more likely than nonveterans to meet PA Guidelines, but may have been more likely to perform vigorous activities and conversely, to spend more time in sedentary activities.
The authors are with the Seattle Epidemiologic Research and Information Center, Dept of Veterans Affairs, Seattle, WA.